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The Surfside Condo Building Collapse

On 24 June, a building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, killing at least 20 people and leaving 128 people unaccounted for. Rescuers are still searching for survivors, and investigators are attempting to find the root cause of the building collapse. Despite the fact that no clear causes having been found, many residents and officials are criticizing the management of the building, saying that more preventative measures could have been taken.

Image Credit: WPTV

In 2018, the firm Morabito Consultants was hired for Champlain Towers South’s milestone recertification. The company reported its findings as well as instructions regarding the necessary structural repairs to ensure the safety of residents and the public. Significant cracks in the concrete were highlighted in particular. The structural field report stated that cracking in concrete columns and walls and deteriorating waterproofing under the pool deck and entrance were causing the structural damage.

A 2020 letter demonstrated that extensive damage was in the building, and Morabito was unable to complete necessary construction on the building because of concerns over stability. Full restoration or repair of the pool pump room were deemed impossible because extraction of concrete could affect the stability of nearby concrete structures. In addition, access to the inside of the pool was limited due to the fact that it was kept open during construction. The tower management advised work on the pool be limited to removing loose concrete as a result.

Concrete deterioration in the building has accelerated as well, although the cause of this deterioration is not clear. Early stages of a crack were visible in the concrete pool equipment room in a photograph from 2018. This crack is still visible in a 2021 photograph taken by Miami Herald, and appears to have worsened. Experts suggested the waterproofing problem outlined by Morabito before, or simply that more concrete had fallen off the crack in the three year period.

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